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India defers FTA talks with EU

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New Delhi: India on Wednesday announced putting off negotiations with the European Union on the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) that was scheduled to take place this month, on grounds of the ban imposed by the EU on importing 700 drugs from Hyderabad-based GVK Biosciences.

www.cbp.gov
Photo Credit: www.cbp.gov

“Government defers the proposed talks between the chief negotiators on India-EU Broad-based Investment and Trade Agreement (EU-BTIA),” the commerce ministry said in a release here.

“This decision has been taken as the government of India is disappointed and concerned by the action of EU in imposing legally binding ban on the sale of around 700 pharma products clinically tested by GVK Biosciences,” the ministry said.

“The government has engaged on the issue with various EU regulators over past 8 months,” it added.

The trade negotiators from both sides were expected to meet here on August 28 to resume the talks stalled in 2013.

“It is pertinent to mention that most of these drugs are already in EU market for many years without any adverse pharmacovigilance report from any member state,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the meeting of the chief negotiators will focus on taking stock of negotiations.

The EU-India free trade talks have failed to reach an agreement over issues pertaining to lowering of tariffs on Indian automobiles and wines and spirits.

The EU ban on over 700 drugs, imposed last week and accepted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is expected to be effective from August 21.

Earlier this year, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India was “ready to talk” with the European Union (EU) on the proposed bilateral free trade agreement.

“I have assured the EU ambassador and ambassadors of individual EU countries that we are ready to talk with the European community. They have been our traditional trading partners,” Sitharaman had told reporters here.

Negotiations on the FTA between India and the EU, were launched in June 2007 but have been facing hurdles with both sides having differences on crucial issues.

No negotiation was held after both sides failed to bridge disagreements in May 2013 on crucial issues including data security status for the IT sector.

The EU-India bilateral trade stood at $101.5 billion in 2013-14.

(IANS)

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TikTok Still Unavailable on Google, Apple App Stores: Report

TikTok refused to share anything more than what it had said on Wednesday

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TikTok
The logo of the TikTok application is seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken Feb. 21, 2019. VOA

TikTok remained unavailable for download on both Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store on Thursday – a day after the Madras High Court’s Madurai Bench lifted the ban on the short video-sharing app.

Sources in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that official communication to the technology companies would be made after it receives the court directive.

The IT ministry had earlier asked Google and Apple to block the app following the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay the Madras HC’s call for ban on the app on April 3.

Deciding the case filed by advocate Muthukumar, the Madurai Bench on Wednesday vacated its interim order banning the app, subject to conditions that pornographic videos will not be uploaded on it, failing which contempt of court proceedings would begin.

Owned by Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok claims to have over 120 million monthly active users in India.

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TikTok has over 54 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. Pixabay

A search for the app on Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store on Thursday did not yield any result.

While Google and Apple refused to share any official statement, the companies would be able to reinstate the app only when they receive an official directive revoking the ban.

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TikTok refused to share anything more than what it had said on Wednesday.

“We are glad about this decision and we believe it is also greatly welcomed by our thriving community in India, who use TikTok as a platform to showcase their creativity,” TikTok had said. (IANS)